I recently had the pleasure of swapping messages with vintage Christmas enthusiast Geoffe Haney. I ran into Geoffe early in the day on /r/chrismas and by mid afternoon he had already cranked out the following piece. Geoffe and his wife are collectors of all things mid-century modern and are pre 1950s ornament aficionados! They have a tree they leave up year round to add all their new finds and when the holiday season arrives they add another four trees to hold their stash!Along with ornament hunting, Geoffe runs Vintage Christmas 365 on Facebook and Tumblr . Thanks again Geoffe! I hope we get to read more from you in the future!
Bronners, Frankenmuth, Michigan
By : Geoffe Haney
I am fortunate to have grown up with Bronner’s in my backyard, well… 20 minutes away. If you love Christmas… this store will make you believe in Santa Claus all over again.
So what is it like? My wife and I are self diagnosed Christmas fanatics, and we visit Bronner’s monthly. When you first arrive in Frankenmuth you will immediately feel like you are no longer in the USA. The Bavarian charm of this world class travel destination caters to people that love chicken, baked goods, beer and shopping. The “strip” in Frankenmuth runs for about a mile then from the “little Bavaria” a break occurs and you are back in the country for a few seconds. A curve in the road and there it is. Bronner’s sits off the road a bit and looks sort of small from the road. You turn onto Christmas Lane and are greeted by hundreds of roadside decorations. In the daytime these are nice but at night when Christmas Lane is all lit up is spectacular.
Park your car, remember where you are, and walk toward one of the entrances. Stop for photo ops with all kinds of decorations, elves, Santa, snowmen, and giant ornaments. The garbage cans immediately let you know something is up. There must be 50 languages on them. This is a worldwide destination.
When you enter the doors you feel like something is about to happen. Ahead is a huge clock that always counts down the days until Christmas. You are greeted and handed a map. KEEP THE MAP. Bronner’s inside is about the same size as 7 football fields, 7 acres or 3 Super Walmarts. It’s HUGE. If Santa Claus could throw up “the spirit of Christmas” this is what it would look like. It’s mind boggling.
Fortunately everything is perfectly laid out in nice organized sections. There are no empty shelves. Hundreds of employees are there to help you and keep the store looking like a grand opening every minute of the day, 361 days a year. The largest section is ornaments. It goes on for what seems like miles. If you live to be 100 you will never see this many ornaments, as you will see in one day at Bronner’s, ever again.
The ceilings are very high and there is magic above you everywhere. It’s a shrine to Santa and Christmas itself. It’s dizzying… Oh and there is ALWAYS Christmas music playing, good Christmas music, classic Christmas music.
Some things you can do at Bronner’s… get a snack in the little cafeteria, get any Christmas ornament personalized, visit their little gallery of vintage ornaments, see the worlds largest collections of Hummel and Precious Moments figurines, a huge collection of nativity sets from all over the globe. Santa visits in November and is always available to convince him of your goodness throughout the year.
When to go? January – September is nice. It’s not too crowded, but can be in the summer, and there is room to move around. However if you want to experience the holidays properly… visit in November and December when Santa is in the house. I made the mistake of visiting one year on Black Friday. I asked the lady that handed out maps at the door how many people were in the store. She said that in the first half hour 5,000 people entered the doors. It was insanely wonderful.
A couple of tips… Pack lite, wear comfortable shoes and know that you will be bumped into… a lot. Another thing to know… Bronner’s doesn’t really have sales… they don’t have to. They do have a small clearance section but those prices are only marked down 10 -15%. Another nice thing about Bronner’s is that they try very hard to buy from all over the world. They are not just a Chinese factory Christmas warehouse. Most of their items are hand made and many ornaments are from Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Austria, and Africa and South America. It’s a worldwide store. You will, on any given day, overhear many different languages from all over this globe. It’s an international destination.
Seasonally there are sections for Easter, Halloween and other holidays. They have a great section of Halloween ceramic villages. Surprisingly there are little or no toys at Bronner’s. There are books and a small section of stuffed animals and jig saw puzzles. But don’t look for the latest toy fad here.
Lastly… If I had one critique, and it’s very petty, is that the slogan of Bronner’s is “Keep Christ in CHRISTmas”. Ok cool, but there are plenty of old pagans out here that love everything about Christmas and do not associate religion with the celebration of the Winter Solstice, Yule, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, The Divine Santa Claus etc… Some of us are just big kids that love the pageantry of the season and like Ebeneezer Scrooge said: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
Where do I begin? I guess I’ll just make this short and to the point. I started to many things at once and this got lost in the shuffle. I forgot about it once the holidays hit, and frankly, just needed a break from it all.
I’m back now and ready to go.
Lately, we’ve been trying to get everything ready for the upcoming holiday season. Once again there is a million things we want to do and they’re probably won’t be enough time.
So far I’ve repainted a Grand Venture Santa I found in trashand a General Foam Joseph from the same pile.
As you can tell both pieces were completely overhauled. I tried giving the Joseph away for over a year and nobody wanted it. I’m assuming because of it conditions. Both Santa and Joseph were in a fire, smoke damaged and covered in who knows what.
I wanted something for Hallowen, so I turned the Joseph into a wizard. I. Going to make him a crystal ball out of an old plastic fishbowl, painted white, with lights on the inside.
The Santa is a gift to my daughter. She’s only 8 so I don’t think she gets how much it means to me to have done this for her. I went with a bubble gum theme for this. I used her 3 favorite colors: pink, teal, and grey. Which is perfect because it’s just the colors of the Santa muted. I’m going to try him with a black light whenever I get one.
Another Halloween mold I made is a custom pumpkin solider. I s older the idea from Lighthearted Halloween on Facebook. I used a the bodies of Union Plastic Soldiers and Trendmaster Jack O Lanterns. I’ve completed one and still waiting for another pumpkin head for the other.
That’s pretty much a quick run through of the past few weeks. Have a alien space craft to get done and tie up some other odds and ends, trick or treat will be here in no time!
This is just a short and sweet update on our newest molds!
This was my first brand new mold ever! Man, was I disappointed. The paint job is terrible. I let General Foam know, we will see what happens. I got it for a great deal on Kmart.com so Im not too mad.
My wife picked up this sweet little lot today for me! I don’t know why but those plastic melted popcorn are starting to really grab my eye! The little pumpkins with the holes on top went to a tiki torch! I haven’t been able to find a picture of one yet though.
This is a pretty sweet group! The pumpkin stack is my first ever Don Featherstone mold! The large Mary, Joseph, Shepherd, cow, lamb,donkey were all given to me by a guy at work! The small Mary and Joseph were bought with the pumpkins and orange pail. We got the purple pail for free and bought the two skeletons for $6! We plan on spraying those with glow in the dark paint before hanging them in our Dogwoods.
Tomorrow is the unofficial last day of summer! The kids are already back in school,the nights are finally cooling off and before you know it Halloween will be here. We still have tons to do,including removal a couple dozen hedges, so we have to get as much done as we can early.And cheap!
Earlier this summer, my mom and step dad re-sided their shed. They only used 3/4 of each plank, scrapping the rest. I scooped them up and have been sitting on them for a couple of weeks now. I started on my own but eventually he whole family got involved on this one!
This is basically all I used.
I started by cutting one of the blanks with the table saw, to make connectors for the boards. Something to hold the boards together. I drilled out pilot holes, I tried to skip this step but the wood kept splitting. I used 1 1/4″ screws.
After I got the boards together, I cut and rounded the tops. I could have, and probably should have, used a jigsaw. But,I just used my table saw it worked okay.
I used pretty cheap paint it was $4 for 3 cans. I got black,white and primer. I sprayed the white , waited a couple minutes, put tape on,and painted the black. I didn’t really spend a lot of time waiting for the paint to dry. After a minute or two, we sprayed the primer over to give it a stone look.
Peeled the tape and presto!
We wanted the white spot so we can change the names yearly. We plan on using the names of celebrities that have passed since the last Halloween. If you plan on not changing names you can skip the white altogether and just ‘get a white paint pen!
I needed a cheap and easy way to hold these up and PVC is super cheap! I got 2, 10 foot, 1/2″ pieces for 4.50! I was going to use 1/2″ conduit straps but then thought of a cheaper way.
We use old WD-40 cans at work for all sorts of stuff and the metal is pretty solid. I found one in the scrap pile and cut it in half with tin snips.
I cleaned up the edges and cut it into 1-2″ strips with a band saw.
I cut the strips in half and took them home.
I drilled holes into the stack of strips. Folded the strip over the PVC and drilled the screws in. Once the PVC was fastened I backed the screws out just a little to be able to wiggle the PVC out
I pounded the PVC into the ground and it slid right into the strip!
Ignore the dead grass and mini sledge!
Scrap Wood- Free
3/4″ Screws -2.00
1 1/4″ Screws -2.00
3 cans of paint- 4.00
PVC: 20ft -$4.50
30 Tombstones for $15! Thats just 50 cents each!
I’ve been putting this off because I already have about 2 dozen hours invested in this repaint and still have probably at least one more.
Looking back, I just realized I repainted all 4 molds i got in the $10.00 lot. I’m a little upset someone snagged the small snowman before me, but I think I still got 4 solid pieces! Now they should all be good for another 35 years!
VINTAGE 48″ POLORON SANTA
1. Strip the mold.
This is absolutely my least favorite part. It smells, the stripper burns if you’re not careful, its almost reverse progress. But it has to be done!
I’ve heard other people use different brand strippers and I’ve seen people who even use oven cleaner. I guess you just find what you like and are comfortable with.
This is pretty much my strip kit minus rags (i just use old shirts) and a hard plastic bristle brush I seemed to have misplace.
Holly Jolly Vintage Strip Kit
- Kleer Strip
- Magic Eraser
- Emery Pad
- Scrub Brushes of different sizes
- Latex gloves
- In a well ventilated area wash your blow mold with ammonia and a scrub brush. This will get a lot of the dirt off and some of the loose paint. Allow the mold to dry.
- Also, while in a well ventilated area apply a coat stripper to a small area of blow mold. I usually do about a 12″x 12″ section. Be careful not to leave the stripper on to long and melt the plastic. I’ve never had any problems melting the plastic with Kleer Strip,but I’m sure if you left it on too long it could happen.
- After you spend a billion hours getting the paint off ,sometimes you’re left with a tinted plastic or “blush”. This is where you use your Magic Eraser, the eraser will get you to a nice white base.
- Before moving on to the painting I wash the mold with dish soap to remove any residue and then again with ammonia. This will allow the tape and paint to stick.
I had a really neat time lapse of this but I cant find it.
Fill and patch holes
I had few holes and cracks to patch and fill.
Heres what I did!
- Hot Glue
- Replacement plastic (I used a milk jug)
For the boot, Santa’s sack, and the crack in his eyebrow I just used hot glue. I applied the glue and once cooled I heated up a spoon to smooth it out. The hole on the boot wasn’t that noticeable to begin with, otherwise I would have patched it like the horn.
PATCHING THE MOLD
This was the first mold I had to patch and I sort of just winged was it.
This went way better than I had expected.
The first thing I did was take the paper and do a “grave rubbing” of the hole with the crayon and paper. Then I cut out the paper and traced it onto the plastic and cut out the plastic. I used a piece of the milk jug that had a bit of a fold on it so that worked really well.
Next step was to fasten the patch to the mold. I taped the edges of the plastic and mixed and applied the epoxy. I then placed the patch over the hole and let dry. After it dried I filled in a couple small holes with epoxy and smoothed it over with hot glue.
As you can see in the image of the stripped mold, it turned out fairly well. Once everything is patched and filled
Tape the Mold
- Frog tape
- Masking tape
- Magazine/ Newspaper
- Xacto Knife
This is almost as bad as stripping the mold but at least you are getting close to seeing progress!
I generally start by painting the shade that covers the most area. In the case of this Santa it was obviously red. I use Frog Tape on the edges following the shape of the Blow Mold. Cutting away excess tape with the Xacto knife. I fill in the areas I can with newspaper and magazines. I wish I would have had masking tape to hold the paper to the Frog Tape , but I was excited to finally get paint on him, so I just used what I had.
Time to Paint
I use Krylon Maxx Spray paint, again this is personal preference .
After each coat put the light in the mold and check for runs and bare spots. You would be surprised what you would miss when not lit up. If you think. the paint is too dull add another coat. If you have runs, I just strip the paint from that section (very carefully),clean the area and repaint.
Let each coat and color dry entirely before moving onto the next color.
I wanted to keep most of him as original as possible.
Some changes i did make were.
- I colored the belt loops red
- I did not give him the gold beard
- I placed a” P” on a block for my last name
- The Plane went from red and gold to red,white, and blue with stars. USA!
- Ill be giving him brown eyes instead of blue.
Thats it ! Thanks for reading!
So, I didn’t abandon this blog or Holly Jolly Vintage. In the process of trying to expand it.
I’m trying to think back of all the new stuff we’ve gotten since my last post and my mind just keeps going back to the best week of the summer.
We snagged most of these molds in one trip after I searched “Santa’s sleigh” on Craigslist. She called them “plastic statues that light up”and I think really just wanted to get rid of them. We grabbed 10 candles ,2 cows, lamb, donkey,camel, Mary, Joseph,Jesus, 2 different angels,4 bears, 3 wise men, shepherd,shepherd boy,penguin, a Santa, a reindeer and the small joy bear. $75.00. It was definitely our biggest haul so far.
Earlier in the week we grabbed the Jack O Lantern for $3. My wife got the snowman, soldier drummer, and a TPI Santa all for $10 from a BST site on Facebook .
We decided since I was off, we should hit the Lincoln Highway yard sales. I wasn’t expecting much after the score we had a couple days before but I’m glad we went! We got another TPI Santa and “Coca Cola Bear” for a dollar a piece . We also got a box of the small Halloween lights, a pumpkin bucket and blow mold popcorn for another $5.00! I don’t collect inflatables but for $5.00 I couldn’t pass up the snow globe! My favorite of that day is the NOEL light post for an astounding 50 cents!
I finally finished the Poloron Santa and will be putting the tutorial together as soon as I’m done with this post.
We also repainted two candles for Halloween.
The top left is how we got the candles. We got them in a lot with the Poloron Santa and a couple of other things. The bottom left was a botched repaint attempt. In our defense , it was winter and cold outside. The tape wouldn’t stick and it was our first ever attempt at a repaint. I’m still torn on the skulls to fill the holes or if i should wait a bit longer and see what other options i have. I have two candles from the large haul that are cracked so im repainting them for Halloween as well. I’m going to do a candy corn paint job with cauldrons on top.
I think thats everything.
We started a webstore: Holly Jolly Vintage
and a Facebook Page .
One last thing.
WE GOT A NEW PUPPY!
…or rather we got our puppy a new puppy! MAXIMUS “MAX” SANTA CLAUS.
Aside from that not much to report on. Yard sales are all running dry and its getting too hot for auctions. We did manage to score a set of 22″ Beco Choir singers from an auction. I snagged them for $5.00 for the pair. I ended up really not wanting them so I tried making a trade. Long story short, I ended up getting greedy and didn’t feel right about it so I gave them away.
Last weekend we went molding and came up empty for the most part. We saved a Union injection molded tree from the landfill and rescued a General Foam trick-or-treat pail from a roadside ditch!
The weekend wasn’t a complete bust,I was able to find some Sun Hill eggs for .10 each at a sale. They also had 2, 8 ft airblown inflatables , Santa and a snowman. I got those for $5 for the pair. The Santa blows up perfectly,but I’m still having trouble with the snowman. If anybody has any tips on getting it to blow up id appreciate them.
I’ve still been working on that Poloron Santa when I have a chance. I’m getting really close to being done and putting together a blog post about that. I cant wait to start on the candles for Halloween, I think theyll look really neat.
162 Days til Christmas! 110 Days til Halloween!
Summer yard sale season is in full force,
and boy have we been busy!
Quick update on the Poloron Santa. It has been a far bigger undertaking than I had expected. Poloron made something fierce when it designed its burnt red paint. Ive already gone through 1.5 qts of Kleen-Strip, about 20 rags, 25 pairs of gloves, 100 gallons of water and I’m still not done. Its definitely been overwhelming to say the least. I still have holes to fill,pieces to fabricate and then paint. Ill get him restored to his former glory but now it just feels like that tunnel is getting longer. I’m starting to get antsy thinking about all the stuff I have to do for halloween stlll and thats only a few months away! (120 days as of today!)
We have two candles we plan on repainting, both black, one with green melting wax the other with purple . We are going to use pumpkin pails as toppers. The flames are going to be used on two Empire candles we found online that came with out flames!
Those come from a pretty cool story too! So I was looking at a BST site and on one of the photos I saw a TPI Santa with deer mold. I asked if it was for sale and the seller responded with “its just a large plastic Santa”. YES! I also spotted a glimpse of a TPI Polar Bear, both in pretty good shape. She said $10, I set up a meeting!
I got a message not long after from the seller I was anticipating a research retraction,nope she offered the candles too for another $5! I couldn’t pass them up.
Earlier in the day, I found 20 light up ornaments for sale. They wanted $4 a piece and there was no way I could justify that,plus it was a bit of a drive . I kicked it around until the seller messaged me and said they would make me a deal! I ended up getting them for $2 a piece. Needless to say, I took all 20! We also managed to snag a General Foam Jack-o-Lantern for another $2 at another sale!
Also,We had our first auction win. A pair of Beco choir singers. I really dont have anywhere for them in my display. I might sell them but I would ultimately like to trade them for a Mrs.Claus and North Pole sign.;).
Oh, its not a lot but our 1st..